In 2004, Google started to digitize books. All kinds of books. But, mostly classic works. The company made these books digital by creating snippets of the works by scanning thousands of books. The ultimate goal was to provide digital editions of books in Google Books.
Many authors did not like what Google was doing, and a lawsuit started to unfold. It's been a really long time coming, but a decision has finally been made in court: Google scanned books under a 'fair use' legal clause. In short, The Authors Guild that originally protested the scanning of these books has no room to argue any longer.
Why Scan Books?
Google books is a massive library filled with (you guessed it) books. All of these books are in digital form, and Google has been working on building up this library for many years now. Most of the books in Google Books are the classic sort. The kinds of books that everyone should read at least once.
If you head to the Google Books website, you will see a search bar that lets you look for any topic. Entering a search term will pull up a corresponding book. From there, you can see an actual digital copy of the book. But, wait, doesn't this go against some kind of copyright law? Well, that's why the Authors Guild was upset about Google's scanning of books.
Why Google Won
Google claims that its 'Books' undertaking is for educational purposes. Google Books attempts to make literature accessible for the entire world, but Google does make a profit from this. How? By displaying various advertisements alongside Google Books snippets. Google makes it relatively simple to purchase a digital copy of a book for your tablet too.
This is why so many people are angry that Google has won the current legal battle. Then again, Google also helps unknown artists enter a larger market by making all kinds of works accessible to a massive audience (there are some books included that aren't classic).
It's a tough call to make, though. On the one hand, Google is bringing digital books to everyone that wants to read a classic. On the other hand, Google is making some profit off of these books. So, where do you stand? On the side of Google or elsewhere?
A Bigger Issue
The fact remains, though, whether the venture was educational or not, Google took copyrighted works and published those works without permission. If Google can do it - where is the line drawn? Does this mean that other companies can use copyrighted materials? Is Google above the law?
The tech world is buzzing today with news of the Google Books decision. What do you think about all of this? Is Google in the right when it comes to digitizing books that are copyrighted? Or, is this a blatant breach of copyright law, and Google should be held accountable? What side of the fence do you stand on?
Let us know what you think about this news below.